A little trade secret: Not all of the facts and nuggets that we write or speak about in various forms of media come from reporters' brains. Some, maybe a lot, come from something like the Postgame News and Notes package put together each week by John Gonoude of the Eagles' media relations department. It's great stuff, and worthy of a deeper dive today.
ITEM 1: 3-1 At Season's Quarter Point
- Philadelphia is now 3-1 this season, including a 2-1 mark on the road and a 2-0 record in division games. The Eagles have won at least 3 of their first 4 games of the season in consecutive years (also 3-1 in 2016) for the first time since 2004-06 (4-0, 3-1, 3-1).
- Philadelphia has won five of its last six contests dating back to Week 16 in 2016. During that stretch, the Eagles are averaging 25.7 points per game.
This 3-1 record feels a lot different than last year's, right? The Eagles lost their fourth game of the 2016 season, fumbling away a fourth-quarter lead and losing in Detroit. It was the game before right tackle Lane Johnson began serving his 10-game suspension. The Eagles went into an immediate tailspin.
This year's Eagles appear to be more equipped for a sustained run in 2017. They have overcome some hardships already – losing top cornerback Ronald Darby since the opener with the ankle injury, having a spate of injuries leading up to and including the Giants game, missing Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox for the game in Los Angeles, playing three of their opening four games on the road … you get the point.
The Eagles are a year older and a year wiser and much more talented than last season. I asked head coach Doug Pederson on Monday if this 3-1 feels different than *that *3-1.
"It does feel different and it feels different because l think there was a little more, I don't want to say 'masking,' but there was some of that early in the season," Pederson said. "Teams hadn't really figured Carson (Wentz, quarterback) out yet; they hadn't figured us out as an offense because it was all new. Now this year everybody is a year older in the system. Carson is a year older and a lot wiser, making good decisions. The defensive line is rolling off the ball. We're creating takeaways. We're not giving the ball away. Then there's our ability to run the football.
"The other difference is, too, those first four games we had Lane Johnson and now we have him moving forward. It's definitely made a big impact on our success offensively."
ITEM 2: Offensively Speaking
- Philadelphia has registered 20+ points in eight consecutive games dating back to Week 14 in 2016, marking the longest active streak in the NFL. The Eagles are tied for the third-most 20+ point games (17) in the NFL since 2016, trailing only Atlanta (18) and New England (18).
- Philadelphia finished the game 9-of-16 (56.3 percent) on third down, which tied for the club's ninth-highest third-down conversion rate since 1991. The Eagles (2017: 30-of-59, 50.8 percent) have converted at least 50 percent of their third-down attempts in three of the first four games of the season. The last time Philadelphia accomplished that feat in as many games was in 1992.
- Philadelphia turned in a time of possession of 39:18, which was its highest single-game figure since last year's season opener vs. Cleveland (39:20 – W, 29-10). The Eagles have posted a 37-minute-plus time of possession in consecutive games (37:32 in Week 3 vs. NYG) for the first time since October 2011.
- Philadelphia's 454 total net yards were the club's most in a single game since November 8, 2015 at Dallas (459 yards – W, 33-27). The Eagles have recorded 400+ total net yards in back-to-back road games for the first time since a six-game stretch in 2014.
- Philadelphia's 1,630 total net yards this season are the club's most through four games since 2013 (1,835 yards).
- The Eagles' 572 rushing yards in 2017 are their most through four games since 2013 (793 yards).
- LeGarrette Blount led Philadelphia with a season-high 136 yards on 16 attempts (8.5 avg.).
Blount's 136 yards marked the fifth-highest rushing total of his career and his most since logging 148 yards in the 2014 AFC Championship Game.
- According to ESPN Stats & Info, Blount finished with 109 rushing yards after contact, which is the most in the NFL this season and the fifth most by any player over the last five seasons.
- Zach Ertz led the Eagles with five receptions for 81 yards (16.2 avg.). In his last 16 games, Ertz has compiled 95 receptions for 1,047 yards (11.0 avg.) and five touchdowns.
Bottom line: The offense has been pretty darn good and hasn't yet put it all together. The offensive line is really playing well as a unit, and the insertion of Stefen Wisniewski and the rotation with he and Chance Warmack is working at left guard. The right side of the line – tackle Lane Johnson and guard Brandon Brooks – has played dominating football.
When you get good play up front, everything else falls into place. That's what is happening here, along with the before-our-eyes maturation of quarterback Carson Wentz and good play calling from head coach Doug Pederson.
ITEM 3: The Special Teams Continue To Thrive
Jake Elliott booted the Eagles to leads of 10-0, 13-0, 16-7, and 19-10 with field goals from 45, 40, 53, and 47 yards. Elliott has now made six consecutive FG attempts, all of which have been from 40+ yards (46, 61, 45, 40, 53, and 47). During that stretch, Elliott's made FGs are averaging 48.7 yards in distance.
Remember, these special teams have a new placekicker (Elliott), a new long snapper (Rick Lovato), and a new punt/kickoff return man (Kenjon Barner) and they are still winning the hidden yardage battle every week. That's huge.
Item 4: The Defense Hangs In Despite Injuries
- On the Chargers' opening drive, Chris Long recorded a strip-sack of Philip Rivers at the Eagles' 41-yard line, while the fumble was recovered by Derek Barnett (first of his career) at the 32. Long joins Brandon Graham (2.5) and Fletcher Cox (2.0) as Eagles with 2+ sacks in 2017.
- The takeaway resulted in a scoring drive (8-yard TD pass to Alshon Jeffery), giving Philadelphia 28 points off seven takeaways this season. Entering Sunday's game, the Eagles ranked tied for fifth in the NFL in takeaways and tied for ninth in points off takeaways.
The defense has a ways to grow, but it certainly has overcome the injuries to keep the Eagles in every game. This side of the football is only going to get better and better as some pieces come back on the field (namely, Cox and Darby) and some young defensive backs mature. Yes, the defense has given up too many "X" plays, and coordinator Jim Schwartz wants to get that fixed.
The Eagles are in good shape at the quarter pole with a 3-1 record. The numbers say so, too. And sometimes, however, you want to skew the numbers, they just don't lie.